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Ordained UM Minister/Rhode Island Legislator Comes Out Of Lesbian Closet, Sponsors Homosexual Marriage Bill


CALLED OUT INFORMATION SERVICE

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Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund Press Release
March 8, 2001
Providence, Rhode Island

Rhode Island Lawmaker Comes Out in Op-Ed Advancing Civil Unions Bill

Nancy Hetherington Becomes Rhode Island's First Openly Lesbian State Legislator

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- State Rep. Nancy Hetherington, D-Cranston, today became Rhode Island's first openly lesbian state legislator when the Providence Journal published an op-ed piece she authored, in which she acknowledged her sexual orientation in the course of advancing a civil unions bill. The Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, the national organization dedicated to electing qualified openly gay and lesbian candidates as a means of overcoming discrimination, hailed Hetherington's decision to come out as an act of courage.

"Nancy Hetherington deserves enormous credit for her courageous willingness to tap into the positive power of coming out in the legislative workplace," said Victory Fund Executive Director Brian K. Bond. "As more gay and lesbian incumbents are coming out, more are finding that honesty really is the best policy. Voters respect and re-elect public servants who are true to themselves while tackling the issues of concern to their constituents."

First elected in 1994, Hetherington has become known as a tireless advocate for adult education, welfare and health care issues, and a champion for civil rights and people with disabilities. An ordained United Methodist minister, she is a professional social worker helping low-income families make the transition from welfare to work. She is a member of the House of Representatives' Health, Education and Welfare Committee.

Rhode Island's first female state legislator to publicly acknowledge being a lesbian, Hetherington is the fourth openly gay state lawmaker in Rhode Island's history, and the third serving in the current legislative session. She joins openly gay state Reps. David Cicilline, D-Providence, and Michael Pisaturo, D-Cranston.

She is the lead sponsor of the civil unions bill, a measure which would grant Rhode Island's committed same-gender couples most of the rights and responsibilities the state confers upon civil marriages. The Rhode Island Alliance for Lesbian and Gay Civil Rights is working with Hetherington and her fellow lawmakers to advance the bill.

According to the Victory Fund, there are now 43 openly gay, lesbian and bisexual state legislators currently serving in 21 state legislatures across America up from 35 such lawmakers serving in 19 states prior to last year's elections.

"State legislatures are becoming increasingly important in the struggle to end discrimination based on sexual orientation," notes Bond. "It is therefore absolutely critical that we continue to grow the numbers of our community's open state legislators to help enlighten the debate and advance the cause of equal rights."

The Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund is the only national organization whose central mission is to increase the number of outstanding openly gay and lesbian public officials. As the nation's ninth largest nonconnected political action committee, the Victory Fund has generated more than $2.5 million for qualified openly gay and lesbian candidates at all levels of government. The organization can be contacted by calling (202) 842-8679.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Sloan C. Wiesen Phone: (202)842-8679, ext. 310 Pager: (800)759-8888, PIN 1169902

Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund 1012 14th Street NW, Suite 1000 Washington, DC 20005 202.842-8679 Voice 202.289-3863 Fax http://www.victoryfund.org 

---- CALLED OUT sent the link to the Nancy Hetherington's op-ed last week. It is at: http://www.providencejournal.com/cgi-bin/story.pl/opinion/05082611.htm 

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